Comic Book Storytelling: House of X and Powers of X

Welcome back to Comic Book Storytelling. It is time to talk about the X-Men again. I know we were just covering the Age of X-Man. But this new X-event is getting a lot of coverage and I thought I should get a word in while it is still fresh. First off, I was right, Age of X-Man was meaningless and will be relegated to continuity limbo until someone decides to briefly reference it later. Now we move on to the new House of X and Powers of X titles and whatever story they are trying to tell. Marvel has been hyping this event with this promo.

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Yes they are claiming that this will be the most important moment in X-Men history. I was skeptical before and after reading it… I am still skeptical but we will get to that. At first people were not sure who the woman in the promo with Professor X was. Now we know it is Moira MacTaggert. Moira is a scientist and longtime ally to the X-Men. She is also the most enduring of Professor X’s many ex-girlfriends. Anyway lets talk about the series.

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The event begins in House of X #1. The issue starts with an ominous sequence of what appears to be Professor X hatching people from amber tree eggs. I don’t know what it means and it better have some payoff later in the series. I also say it appears to be Professor X because so far he is always wearing the a cerebro helmet that covers most of his face so there is a real chance that its not really Professor X and there will be some reveal later that some other powerful telepath is behind all of this.

The X-Men and mutants in general are setting up their own island nation on Krakoa the living island. They are also using bits of Krakoa to make embassies and portals to the main island all over the world. But only mutants can use the portals so there is no way this will go wrong and be used against them later.

So the mutants invite some ambassadors to their new embassy and they are greeted by Magento. The new mutant nation is giving amnesty to everyone going forward. This does not sit well with all of the dignitaries but they roll with it for the moment. It seems Magneto is finally giving peace a chance but of course he is being a real dick about it.

Also there is a new secret organization made of members of other organizations that is engaged in a conspiracy to KILL ALL THE MUTANTS… AGAIN! Marvel has gone down this road before with the mutants fighting against extinction and so far I see nothing that makes it any more interesting than the last hundred times it happened.

Elsewhere we see Mystique, Sabertooth, and Toad stealing something from Damage Control. They get away with what they were after but Sabertooth is caught by the Fantastic Four. Cyclops shows up and tries to use the general amnesty to get Sabertooth but Reed Richards points out that amnesty does not cover the crimes he just a committed in the last hour. Cyclops backs down but still acts really cryptic and everything about this new mutant nation on Krakoa seems ominous. It is clear a really big shoe is going to drop at some point in this series.

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Power of X #1 is where things start to get really out there. This is where the series starts jumping around time and it is a lot to keep track of. It starts with a flashback to the day Charles Xavier and Moira MacTaggert met. It has the panel sequence from the “most important scene is X-Men history” promo but we don’t get to find out what is going on until House of X #2.

Next it jumps to present day Krakoa island. Mystique brings the data she stole from Damage Control to Magneto and Professor X. We don’t get any clue what data the flash drive contains. But Professor X continues to be all mysterious fueling my suspicion that this is an imposter.

Next we go to Year 100 or 100 years after the X-Men formed. It is a future like many we have seen before where mutants are still fighting to survive against a new breed of mutant hunting sentinels. We meet a few new mutants named Rasputin, Cardinal, and Cylobel. Apparently they were all specially genetically engineered for different stuff. Clylobel is captured while Rasputin and Cardinal escape with whatever they were stealing from the sentinels. Clylobel is taken before Nimrod, the future super sentinel. Clyobel gets put in a vat of liquid so they can read her brain or something so she is basically dead now. There are still humans who are aligned with the machines but it is clear the machines are in charge despite Nimrod’s insistence otherwise.

Finally the issue jumps to Year One Thousand or a thousand years in the X-Men’s future. We see a blue lady called the Librarian talking to a little snowflake robot that is some evolution of Nimrod. Also Cylobel’s corpse is still there preserved in the vat of liquid as a decoration. I don’t know what the Librarian is up to and honestly I don’t care.

House Of X (2019-) #2 (of 6)
CR: Marvel Comics

Now lets get to House of X #2 where we finally get to learn more about this “most important moment” they have been hyping.

This issue is all about Moira MacTaggert. For as long as Moira has been a part of X-Men lore she has been a world renowned genius geneticist and human ally to Charles Xavier. In this story we learn that she was always secretly a mutant. Her power is reincarnation. Every time she dies she is reborn in effectively a new timeline. She has lived many lives and seen history play out differently in each one.

In her first life she just thought she was an ordinary woman and lived an ordinary life. Then she came back and lived her life again. Each time she is reborn she has all the knowledge of what happened before so she was smart enough to keep it secret. In each following life she comes to be seen as a child prodigy and genius because she begins each life with adult knowledge of all her lives before. And as a bonus her ability makes her undetectable to other mutants.

In her first few lives Moira tried to understand what she was even going so far as to develop a “cure” for x-gene mutation. This drew the attention of Mystique and the Brotherhood. They slaughtered everyone Moira worked with and destroyed the cure. Then Moira came face to face with Destiny, the mutant who can see the future. Destiny was able to determine that Moira is not immortal, she has a limited number of reincarnations ahead of her. Now that Destiny is aware of Moira it will be possible for her to track her across time and stop her if she ever works against mutants again. Then they burn Moira alive so she remembers where this path leads.

It was after that life that Moira finally took a chance on Charles Xavier. She fell in love with him and was with him and the X-Men in all their exploits. But eventually they were defeated by the sentinels in that timeline. Moira tried again with Xavier in her next life, this time instead of just a team they built a mutant city. But they were defeated by the sentinels once again. In her next life she gets the bright idea to wipe Bolivar Trask and his whole family to prevent the creation of sentinels. But artificial intelligence was always coming no matter what and the idea of using it against mutants was bigger than one man or bloodline.

So then Moira lived a life where she worked with Magneto instead of Xavier to save mutants. But Magneto is defeated by the X-Men and other Marvel heroes and the dystopian future ruled by the sentinels comes anyway.

After lives with both Magneto and Xavier had failed Moira tried something different and had a life where she allied with Apocalypse. This creates a world where Apocalypse wages an eternal war with the sentinels for supremacy of Earth.

And finally we come to Moira’s life in the current timeline. Moira began this life determined to seek out Xavier this time and “break all the rules” whatever that will turn out to mean.

People have said this reveal about Moira changes X-Men history. I disagree. To me it is just another retcon. It is making for an interesting story but I don’t see how it will redefine anything that came before. Apparently Xavier has known Moira’s secret since they met but Xavier has had secrets before and I can’t remember any of them making a lasting impact. This will be an important moment that recontextualizes Moira as a character in the X-Men lore but it has little impact on the history of the X-Men.

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And finally lets take a look at Powers of X #2. It turns out years ago Moira and Xavier went to Magento and told him the truth about her reincarnation power and all the disastrous timelines she has lived through. This means that for years Xavier and Magneto have had a secret alliance. They say their plan is long term and for some reason they need to oppose each other for years as it plays out even though their goal is all mutants united.

Back to the present we see Cyclops being briefed about the new anti-mutant organization. Long story short they are trying to create the first Nimrod sentinel and have to be stopped.

Then the issue jumps to Year 100 again. Turns out the mutants in this future are being led by Apocalypse. They were stealing some data so they could find the location of some other data stored elsewhere. I did not find it interesting enough to read again for clarity. I am usually all for non-linear storytelling but so little is actually happening and there are all these pages of bland exposition thrown in that I am just finding this plot kind of dull. Anyway we also see Nimrod being a total dick to his human allies showing he has just as much contempt for them as the mutants he was made to destroy.

And at the end we see the blue Librarian in the Year One Thousand era talking to the Phalanx. I could explain that in more detail but it still would not make sense.

There are actually some interesting science fiction ideas being thrown around here but we spend so little time with each one before the next time jump none of them have room to root. I have been disappointed by a lot of Marvel events over the years. Very recently I was disappointed by an X-Men event. I am not convinced this one will be different. I will keep reading it to cover it for you but be prepared for a sour ending.

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